The sixth International E-Waste Day in October will focus on ‘invisible e-waste’ – household items such as electric and electronic toys, e-cigarettes, power tools, smoke detectors and electrical cables.
The event is promoted by the WEEE Forum, an international association of producer responsibility organisations, which is encouraging people to ensure e-products are properly identified and directed to dedicated collection points for responsible recycling.
A 2022 study by the United Nations Institute for Training and Resources and WEEE Forum members in the UK, Italy, Portugal, Romania, Slovenia and the Netherlands identified 74 smaller e-products and found the average home was hoarding 13 of them (nine were unused but working and four were broken). Small consumer electronics and accessories such as headphones or remote controls that are often not recognised as electronic items topped the list of hoarded products.
Invisible e-waste issue is part of a bigger picture, insists the WEEE Forum. According to the United Nations, 8kg of e-waste per person will be produced worldwide in 2023, an overall total 61.3 million tonnes of e-waste discarded within a year. Only 17.4%, containing both harmful substances and precious materials, will be recorded as being properly collected, treated and recycled globally.
An ‘All Actors’ approach, advocated by the WEEE Forum, emphasises that everyone has a role to play in mitigating the environmental and societal risks caused by e-waste.
A silent emergency, says Leroy
Pascal Leroy, dg of the WEEE Forum, calls ‘invisible e-waste’ a silent emergency. ‘We must all recognise the role we play in this issue and work together to address it. In fact, all electricals must be properly recycled, including bigger appliances where we have no doubts whether they are electronic or not. International E-Waste Day provides a platform for us to unite and take action.’
The campaign is calling on people to sign up to the campaign, educate others and advocate change, and dispose of their own e-waste properly.